top of page

Ralph Savarese & Tilly Woodward

Tilly Woodward, Mixed Metaphor, Oil on Board, 11 x 9 inches, 2011

If the pliers could swim, 
they’d mate with the crab: 
metal on meat, pincer on screw. 
(The pliers are players.) 

If the crab could do math, 
it would purchase those pearls-- 
right from your neck 
and wrong from the shell. 
To count is to cost. 

All metaphors are mixed, 
and strings must be pulled. 
If love is a puppet, 
then resemblance is a bruise.


Tilly Woodward, Lots of Little Crabs, Oil on Board,

6 x 8 inches, 2015



So, the tree’s the shore,

and the wind’s the waves.

The berries move across the sand.

But wait: the sand is green!

They look like sun-burned

preemies on a neonatal unit,

each hooked up to oxygen.

Let’s listen to them sleep.

Thoreau decried their harsh taste.

“It’s the Saunterer’s Apple,”

he said, “not even the saunterer

can eat in the house.”

But sour gives birth to sweet.

As in marriage, every apple tree

needs its curmudgeon.

When it smiles, the bees come.

The crustacean is said to have

“a crooked or wayward gait.”

Hence, the Middle English

word “crabbed.”

From disability, we language users

leapt to mood, to constitution.

Think of this poem as a ship

captain’s humble flare.



Do not disturb my circles.



for Steve Kuusisto


The great polymath died in the Siege

of Syracuse, where you teach, Steve.

The Roman general Marcus Claudius

Marcellus had said he should be

taken alive, though in war, as in sex,

enthusiasm can be a problem.

Tonight I make you an honorary Sicilian.

I place you at the bolt thrower—

who cares if you’re blind? I’m not

asking you to kill anyone in particular.

We have better food than the Finns,

and the pine trees never play dead.

In poems, we deploy the Wise One’s claw, 

lifting up wooden vessels, which some call

words, and dropping them to their doom.

Our spolia opima? Friendship. A few rhymes.

Ralph Savarese is the author of two books of prose, Reasonable People and See It Feelingly, and two books of poetry, Republican Fathers and When This is Over:  Pandemic Poems. He is also the co-editor of three collections. His creative work has appeared, among other places, in American Poetry Review, Bellingham Review, Fourth Genre, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, Ploughshares, Seneca Review, Sewanee Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Southwest Review.

Tilly Woodward grew up on a farm, graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Kansas. Her artwork has been exhibited in more than 194 museums and galleries nationally and can be found in museum, corporate and private collections in Israel, Ghana, Uganda, India, and throughout the United States. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including two Fellowships for Drawing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has initiated many arts outreach projects designed to help communities address social issues, foster creativity, build compassion, and engage with joy. She is well known for her highly realistic, meticulously detailed oil paintings of small things. 

bottom of page